Catching Miss Lucy

Targeting miss Lucy is fairly simple, as you catch them while targeting other species and they will take on most baits and trace set ups.

The red stumpnose, or miss Lucy as it is commonly know (also called the lady in red) is a mid to deep water species of reef fish (part of the red fish family), found in our inshore South African waters from the wild coast through to the Southern Cape. The miss Lucy is commonly found in depths ranging from 35 meters up to a 135 meters (which is both the deepest and shallowest depths respectively that I have caught these fish), although the ideal depth to target this species is 50 – 100 meters.

Targeting miss Lucy is fairly simple, as you catch them while targeting other species and they will take on most baits and trace set ups, but I have found a hand full of tips that will increase your chances of hooking and landing a miss Lucy if you know that they are commonly found on the reef on which you are fishing. We are going to look at three important tips to note when targeting miss Lucy, namely trace, bait and angling area.

Trace

The trace that I commonly use for miss Lucy is a two hook trace, with circle hooks comprising both hooks on my trace. Below I have drawn a simple diagram showing the trace that I use for targeting miss Lucy. The trace is as simple as what you can see in the diagram, we start with a three way swivel at the top of the trace that you attach to your mainline. The top hook is usually a 4/0 – 6/0 VMC Sport circle, followed by a 7/0 or 8/0 VMC Sport circle for the bottom hook. I try stick to trace line of around 0.90mm (42kg) to connect all the components of the trace together and a slightly lighter line for my sinker trace (in the case of the sinker getting snagged on the reef I might lose the sinker, but will retrieve my whole trace, as well as the fish if I am fighting a fish when I get snagged. The reason for the hook size and diameter of line for my trace is quite simple, if I hook something like a kob, geelbek or black musselcracker while targeting miss lucy, I will still have a good chance of landing the fish, while at the same time, with the size of the hooks I have chosen, I can still hook the likes of a red roman or dagaraad, etc if they decide to bite.

Tackle

Rod: Shimano Beast Master Boat 70MH

Reel: KP 7 inch deluxe

Mainline: Suffix 832 8 strand 30 pound green braid

Leader: T-Line 0.90mm monofilament (42kg)

This is my go to set up for any form of angling off the deep sea boat when targeting your smaller reef species, as well as kob and geelbek.

Bait

Miss lucy will pretty much eat any bait that you drop down on their reef. I have caught them on anything from sardines, to fillet baits and even rock bait (yes rock bait is one of my secret deep sea baits). My go to baits that I have my greatest success on are quite simple. On the top hook I will tenderise up a decent size piece of squid and tie it up into a squids body shape, after this I will cut two long thin strips of squid and add it to the bait. The tenderised “body” provides the smell and the thin strips provide the movement. On the bottom hook I have another very simple, yet effective bait. Take one sardine and make a diagonal cut from the front of the sardines dorsal fin down to its cloaca, follow up by slicing the head off and then slice down the back bone to make two equal sized fillet of sardine. Take these two fillets and tie them together skin side together and meat side facing out. Place this on your hook and end the bait of by slicing one long strip of squid, broad at the base where you attach it to the sardine, tapering out (getting thinner) towards the end that hangs off the bait to create movement, where you will cut the end to make it look like two legs. These are the two baits I use without fail when I’m aware of miss lucy being resident on a spot I’m fishing.

They can be caught all along the South African coast, from mossel bay, right up the natal coast, with the Transkei and East London areas producing some of the best angling areas that I have seen for a miss lucy.

Kyle Schmidt

Angling Area

As I previously mentioned, miss lucy tend to hang around on reefs in depths from 50 – 100 meters. They can be caught all along the South African coast, from mossel bay, right up the natal coast, with the Transkei and East London areas producing some of the best angling areas that I have seen for a miss lucy. When hoping to catch a miss lucy upon arrival on a reef on your GPS, there are four simple things to keep an eye open for, namely water colour, water temperature and showing. I have noticed that miss lucy tend to feed in water that is relatively clean (having way less success in dirty water). They tend to feed more readily when the water temp is around 18 – 20 degrees Celsius (although one must remember that the water temp on the surface may be very different to the water temp on the bottom, so for this reason feel how warm or cold your sinker is upon bring your trace back into the boat to see if the water is in the ballpark range for these fish). Another important point to remember is the current on your spot. If the current on the bottom is screaming, rather cut your losses and move to another spot where the current on the bottom is less, as they tend to feed less frequently in heavier current. If the surface current is heavy but bottom current is calm, then hold and motors and have a drop, as the fish will more than likely be feeding. Laslty, when arriving on a reef, have a look at the showing on your eco sounder. If there is a showing of baitfish accompanied by a showing of larger fish that are either on the bottom or up to 3 meters off the bottom (with the ideal conditions I mentioned being the conditions prevailing on the day), the chances are there will be a miss lucy, or a shoal of miss lucy floating around in that area.

In closing, upon departing for a day on the boat, ensure you have a list somewhere on the boat stating the minimum sizes, as well as bag limits of all species you may encounter in your area. The minimum size for a miss lucy is 40cm and the bag limit is 1 per person per day. I hope you are all keeping well during the lock down and look forward to the day we can all meet on the water again! Never forget, don’t catch your limit, limit your catch.

Yours in angling

Kyle Schmidt

Primal Provider #149

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